The stony silence has been ongoing since the last article - Getting to know every type of climate change denier - and now it's just getting awkward. Somewhere a cricket chirps in the aftermath of your uncle's question of ‘what do you think of all this climate hoax stuff?’ 

This is a precarious moment in the evening and, if you don't proceed with caution, could lead to an appearance on Judge Judy further down the line following a massive feud in which you throw your uncle’s lawnmower in Cringle Reservoir, knowing he loves that thing more than life itself. So, what to do from here? Ignore your auntie’s suggestion of putting on Mrs Brown’s Boys to break the ice. Hopefully we can help the conversation set to ensue. 

A couple things to take note of before the climate debate warms up. Pun intended. In these situations, facts will likely fall on deaf ears. Facts can be alienating, boring, and to be blunt, make you give off an ‘I'm superior’ vibe. Plus, it's unlikely the person you're speaking with is going to go look the facts up to make sure they're right. They won’t care, and no doubt they’ll have their own facts of some sort to throw back at you. Then it’s just a fact-off; a less exciting sequel to Face Off. 

The better approach is less about science and more about shared values.

Try to understand where your values align and where they don't. As previously mentioned in this series, the debate around climate change is more about political persuasion and social identity than climate change itself. For example, if you're trying to sway a liberal denier, you could focus on how great climate action will be for wildlife and/or will give future generations more opportunities to do great things. Meanwhile, if you're trying to sway a conservative, you could tug more on the patriotic heartstrings and focus on how important it is to preserve our heritage from weather that could eventually destroy it.  

Focus on the positives rather than what's going wrong.

It can be energy-sucking to focus on the bad stuff all the time, which is commonly what the news does unless a cute dog has done something delightful. Often, people find a lot more motivation when they’re offered solutions rather than just problems. So, in a world where people are being pelted with bad news on a daily basis, try and hone in on the positive solutions to climate change, e.g. you can save money on bills at home.   

Ask questions about their views on the matter.

Even if what they’re saying makes you want to eat your own head to avoid having an outburst, make them feel heard. Because that’s all anyone wants. I know the world is in a bad place and lives are being lost, so I understand your urgency to get that across. It's admirable. But how to portray that is important. People don't like feeling like they're being lectured. Make them feel like they're being heard and feel like you're interested in their side before you give yours. It creates an atmosphere of respect. Once that is established, people are more willing to engage with different points of view.

Except when it comes to Mrs Brown’s Boys.